Report on the 8th Round VB NSW Cup match between the New Zealand Warriors and Newtown, played at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Saturday, 25th April 2015 by Glen ‘Bumper’ Dwyer.
The trip across the Tasman continues to present problems for the Newtown Jets. The New Zealand Warriors led Newtown by 18-6 at halftime in Saturday’s game at Mt Smart Stadium, but the Jets pulled back to trail by 18-12 ten minutes into the second half and everything pointed towards a great second half contest. The Stacey Jones-coached Warriors then wrested back control and momentum and ran away to a comprehensive 44-18 victory in this 8th round NSW Cup match.
The Warriors had dominated possession early and things looked grim for Newtown when they trailed 18-0 after 22 minutes, with the Warriors having scored four tries. The Jets rallied and prevented the Warriors from scoring again before half-time, while centre Sami Sauiluma scored Newtown’s first try one minute before the half-time siren.
The Jets coaching staff were no doubt mindful of last year’s amazing comeback victory in Auckland, when the Jets had trailed 28-0 in the first half and went on to record an extraordinary 30-28 victory. Coach Matterson called on his players to put maximum pressure on the big Warriors forwards and inside backs, to complete their own sets and make good decisions on the sixth tackle. Matterson emphasised that the game was there to be won but the Jets needed to shut down the Warriors’ expansive style of play.
Newtown kept the Warriors in their own half early in the second session and a couple of penalties gave the Jets great field position. Hooker Pat Politoni scored in the 48th minute and halfback Todd Murphy’s conversion made it game on at 18-12. A succession of Newtown errors put an end to any hopes of another come-from-behind victory. The Warriors put on two quick tries, had two more disallowed and then their seventh try in the 65th minute gave the Aotearoa boys an unassailable 34-12 lead. Sami Sauiluma scored from a clever chip kick and retrieve effort twelve minutes out from fulltime, but that was to be Newtown’s last hurrah. The Warriors made good use of further dropped ball by the Jets at their own end by rushing on another converted try, and then the Warriors scored again on the back of a booming 40/20 kick with only two minutes left to play.
Centre Blake Ayshford and lock Tim Robinson were probably Newtown’s best performers on a day where very little had gone right for the Jets. Forwards Tarek El Masri and Malakai Houma were both on debut for Newtown and did their best in tough circumstances. A couple of soft tries scored by the Warriors from dummy-half and an error-ridden second half just about summed up Newtown’s day.
There are no NSW Cup fixtures being played on this upcoming Rugby League representative games weekend. Congratulations to Nathan Gardner and Mitch Brown who have both won selection in the NSW Cup representative team to play the Queensland Residents in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. Well done also to Jayson Bukuya and Pat Politoni who have been selected to play for Fiji and Tonga respectively in the Pacific Test matches to be played on Saturday evening on the Gold Coast. All four of these players have turned out for Newtown this season while on loan from the Cronulla Sharks.
Newtown’s next NSW Cup match is at Henson Park on Saturday, 9th May when the Jets host the Illawarra Cutters at 3.00pm. There is also a NSW Cup curtain-raiser on that same day at Henson Park with Manly-Warringah playing the New Zealand Warriors at 1.00pm.